Sunday, October 28, 2012

Traditions and Pride

Traditions in the fire service run deep. Many of them go back to when fire departments first began, A lot of them still around today. Traditions such wooden ladders, color of the rigs, helmet style and color, the Dalmatian, and so on. Just like the ones that have stayed, many have gone away, mainly for safety reasons, but should be remembered.  Riding on the tailboard, rubber hip boots, beards, no SCBA, house sirens, and beacon rays, just to name a few.

                My point is, you have to know where you have been to understand where you are at. I have heard the phrase a thousand times “because that’s the way we have always done it.” I hate that answer! Tell me why it has always been done that way. Is it a tradition that was started by the first chief or captain? Is it to honor a past member of the department? Is it simply because everyone was just complacent and didn’t question it? Like I said, tell me why so I can embrace and continue to follow the tradition or look into a new,faster,safer  way to do it. It could result in a new tradition followed for years to come in your department.

                My next point usually goes hand and hand with traditions, and that is pride. Pride is one of those things that can often be taken the wrong way. I have heard it said “that department is cocky.”  I don’t see it like that. If you are proud of your department, the way you perform on the fire ground, and proud of the community that you serve, and that makes you hold your head up a little higher and stick your chest out a little farther, then let them call you cocky. Haters are going to hate.

                A question was asked by my Deputy Chief to a class of new recruits, “what is the best fire department in the United States?” The answers were what I personally expected, FDNY, Chicago Fire, Boston, DCFD, LAFD, etc.  His reply was, “all of those departments are great, some of the finest firefighters I have ever seen, but the best fire department is this one, because its my fire department.” WOW! I had never really thought of it like that before, but he was right. His point was, have enough pride, no matter how big or small your department that you give 110% on every call and provide the best service you can to the people in which you serve.

                Taking Pride in your station(s), pride in your rigs, pride in your rank, pride in your helmet and the battle scars it has, pride in your brothers and sisters and what they do, and your department will be the best in the United States .

Always remember, to be too proud is sinful. Be humble, but be proud. Remember where you came from and the traditions that made your department what it is today. Honor those that have gone before you and how proud they were to be firefighters.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Have You Lost Your Fire?

               How many out there have been at a place in their fire service career, where you just want to leave your gear laying there and walk out the door?  You could care less if you trained, check off the rig, or if the tones even went off? Just plain and simple lost your drive, your “fire”! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the job itself, I’m talking about your give a damn is busted.

                I have been there myself. I still love firefighting, but at times all the other B.S. gets  to thick, causing me to want to just walk away. Of course my passion for it would let do that no matter how much smack I talk. Everyone has those things that just piss them off or sick of hearing about, whether it’s the politics at the chief level, officer riding you about this or that, lack of structure, or the infamous “firefighter bitch and moan” club, and for some it’s just life in general, too many things on your plate all at once.

                Life’s problems can get you down quick. A new baby at home and all the worries that come with it, money trouble, marital problems, sick family members, death of a loved one, there are so many things that can get your mind occupied a cause you to be off your game, you know lose that “fire”.

                So how do you get it back? How do you get back that drive, motivation, that burning in your soul you that you had when you first started your firefighting career? To be 100% honest, I don’t have a clue! I know it’s probably not the answer you thought I was going to give, but stay with me, I have a point.

                Everyone is different in the way they work through stuff. First, get it set in your mind that you are going to get that “fire” back one way or another. Once that is done the rest should come easy. Second, think back to the point where you noticed a change in your mindset. What was it that brought you to the point your give a damn’s busted so to speak? It could have been something that the chief said that rubbed you the wrong way, a disagreement with and officer over a training or particular incident, or with other members of the department over one thing or another. Think back to that time and then, fix it. Try talking with the chief about what he did, or the officer, or department members you argued with and try to find common ground on the situation. Try having a shift or station meeting to throw all the cards on the table. You never know, you might not be the only that has lost their motivation.

                If it’s life problem that has got you down and too much on your plate, well those are a little more difficult sometimes.  Like I stated before everyone deals with things their own way in their own time, for some, it’s prayer, talking to a spouse or friend, or talking with the brothers and sisters at the firehouse. I am blessed in the fact my wife is a firefighter as well. If something has got me a little torqued, I can talk to her about it and she understands where I’m coming from. Sometimes just talking about it with someone is all it takes. Other times a vacation is what you need. A few days away from work, no phone, no pager, no computer, just get out of town, a change of scenery to clear your mind, and reevaluate things.  Sometimes the only logical thing to do is realize its life, and there’s nothing you can do about it but sit back and enjoy the ride. Whatever the case maybe get it out in the open and deal with, or it will eat away at you.

                As I said in the beginning, I have been there and I know that others have too. Getting your desire, motivation, and your “fire” back for the job is like starting all over again. It may even motivate others to get a second wind so to speak and step their game up to train better, exercise more, or just be a better firefighter in general. Let’s all strive to keep the fire burning.



Sunday, October 14, 2012


Be appreciative… this is something I have always been taught. All of us have been taught this in life. The Bible even speaks of it, don’t covet, don’t envy, etc. It seems like all we do though is NOT appreciate what we have or know. I am guilty of this myself. It seems like all the time somebody is saying something about how; I wish we had this or that, or the chief could have bought us something better. Those are just a couple of examples but I could list so many more. To beat it all too most of the complaining comes from the younger people who barely have any experience on the department but think they are 20 year veterans. You know the 2/20 firemen, 2 years on 20 years experience and still don’t know crap. That’s another story though.  Anyway I need to get to the point.

For the past 7 years the area fire chief’s council has put on a training weekend and firefighters from all over the state come to participate. These guys and gals are from volunteer, career, and/or combination departments. It’s open to all. There are firefighters there that come from departments with the biggest budgets, newest nicest equipment, all the bells and whistles, what we all dream of. Then, there are the folks that come from departments that you wonder how they are even what they are. Of coarse there is the in between people too. The average jakes I guess.

As I sat in class this weekend and looked around me, listened to others talking, and processed what they were saying I realized just how lucky myself, my brother firefighters, and the departments I serve really are. We are blessed and fortunate to have the leaders, equipment, training, and support that we do have. We could be so much worse off. Until you realize how little some people have you don’t appreciate what you do have as much. Some of the stuff I was hearing blew my mind and I couldn't process how they got away with some of the things they were talking about, mind boggling to say the least.

During our scenario’s we had to do we were broken up into groups and got the opportunity to work with some of these firefighters from the less fortunate departments I am talking about. As we got deeper and deeper into these scenario’s I realized these guys really did have some good ideas. I think there is actually a lot of that out there. Maybe they just don’t have the support they need or someone that will listen to them. I also found an opportunity to pass on what little knowledge I have that they might be able to take back home or put in their toolbox and use later on.  These guys are out here trying to accomplish the same thing as the rest of us and share the same common goal of trying to protect and save lives and property. They know how to appreciate what they have and make the best of it.

So my question is, no matter what you have or don’t have, know or don’t know, why is it so hard to appreciate it? I don’t have the answer, I wish I did. I can promise you this though… from now on my goal is to appreciate things more. I know it could always be worse. Around here we are blessed and most don’t even realize it. If you have the answer or have any ideas please pass them on to me. Also, if you get the chance, take the time to say THANK YOU to those that make it possible to have what you do have.

As always, BE SAFE!!!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fire Prevention Year

                Fire Prevention Week is upon us once again. Every year, the week of October 9th, fire departments across the nation will be participating in fire prevention week activities.

                Fire Prevention Week started in 1922 to commemorate The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed over 17,000 structures burning more than 2000 acres. Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The President has made a proclamation of the observance every year since 1925.

                Each year NFPA sets the theme or campaign for week in an area of fire safety. This year’s theme is Have 2 way out. Themes in past years have been: Protect your family from fire, Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with, When fire strikes: Get out, stay out, and the list goes on. You can see the area of focus each year.

                So, knowing when Fire Prevention Week is, why it started, and what its goal is, hear is my question to you. Why focus on fire prevention for just 1 week out of the year? For some departments that one week is the only time they think about fire prevention and getting out in the community and talking about fire safety.  Don’t get me wrong, a lot of great information is given out in that 1 week and could save a life in the event of a fire, but don’t the citizens of your community deserve to have lifesaving information presented to them 52 weeks a year?

                Fires don’t just happen 1 week out of the year and take a 51 week vacation and neither should your fire prevention efforts. It should be our goal as firefighters to educate the public every chance we get.

                I’m not saying that every week or every month you need some big elaborate event or theme, but get creative. Go by your child’s school with a pumper, swing  by little league practice and talk to the kids afterwards, while out pre-planning or while doing tactical survey, stop by the senior center and talk or answer questions, or have a station open house for the public to come to you. There are so many opportunities out there to get lifesaving information to the citizens you serve. I know that public education is the first thing to get cut when budget time rolls around, but most of these will make the Brass happy because they don’t cost anything but a little time and want to.

                So here is my challenge to you. Those other 51weeks during the year make those Fire Prevention Weeks too! You never know, that mom and dad, or child you talk to in March, could be a fire survivor in July, instead of a fire fatality all because you took the time to talk to them about fire safety. You don’t have to wait until January 1st, start now! Let’s make every week Fire Prevention Week. Are you up to the challenge?




Saturday, October 6, 2012

Safe Industries Visit

Hey everybody! We had a good visit at Safe Industries this week in Lavergne, TN. They really have a nice place down there. New shipments are coming in every day, they are planning on filling up the warehouse with anything you may need. They have a really nice show room and almost everything 5.11 tactical makes. Other brands available are Globe, MSA, Cairns, LightningX, Streamlight, and much much more. If you are down that way please go check them out. I know Jeff will be up at the Upper Cumberland Training Weekend next weekend so you can come see him there also. Hope everybody has had a good weekend so far, everybody be safe!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Grand Opening!

If you plan on being in the Lavergne/Murfreesboro area this weekend or have some spare time to take a road trip go check them out. I heard they have some AWESOME door prizes, just sayin...

Y'all be safe!

Ladder Failure...

So I was reading this report today from NIOSH about ladder failure on a 1975 American LaFrance 100ft stick. As I was reading I seen something that caught my eye. Now, I don't want to put anybody down here but here is what the article states...

" When he reached the fly section the tip bounced then twisted to the left. He continued climbing and as he reached the tip, the ladder continued twisting to the left and the three sections beyond the bed ladder section began to slowly collapse. The collapse accelerated and the ladder struck the ground with the captain clinging to it."

I am no genius, but, I like to think I have enough sense about me to know when to say "something ain't right here." When the tip twisted before he ever even made it there he should have stopped and backed down. I don't know how much it twisted at first but I know you can feel those things bounce, sway, etc. It was just a few weeks ago when I was at the top of one. 

I am glad to see that the captain had non life threatening injuries and is ok, these are injuries that could have been prevented though. Hopefully lessons have been learned. 

Like I said before, not wanting to put anybody down or Monday morning quarterback, that just caught my eye and I couldn't pass it up.

Full article can be seen here:

Everybody be safe this evening!!!!!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's to come....

Josh and I talked today, we have several things in mind we would like to talk about on here pretty soon. A few things are, Tradition and Pride in the Fire Service, Firefighter Rehab, What's in your pockets?. Any ideas anyone may have of something you would like to see send us a message to

Be Safe!

About Us

Firefighter/Paramedic Zachary Womack
I am Zachary Womack. I am a Firefighter/Paramedic in Tennessee. I have been in the fire department since 2000 when I started as an explorer.

I received my basic fire training through the Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy. I have obtained accredited certifications through the Tennessee Commission on Firefighting in Hazmat Awareness, Hazmat Operations, Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Fire Apparatus Operator, and Fire Department Instructor I. I received my EMT and Paramedic training at Tennessee Tech University. 

At home life is simple for me. I have a wonderful loving wife, Andrea, which has been with me and supported me since 2005. I also have a beautiful little girl, Clara. 

Anyway, that’s me, I love my life, love my job, God has really blessed me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


Captain Josh Womack
My name is Josh Womack. I am a 911 Dispatcher and a Captain with a Fire Department serving as the Public Education/Information Officer.

I started with the fire department October 1st, 2000. I began helping with public education not long after that. I spent a brief period as Engineer until April 2005, when I made Captain. In 2009 I started working part time in the 911 Center, and took a full time position in June 2011.

My basic firefighting training was done through the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. I also have accredited certifications from the Tennessee Commission on Firefighting. I hold certifications in Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazmat Awareness, Hazmat Operations, and Fire Instructor I, as well as many certifications from the Tennessee Fire Academy. I am currently working toward my State level Fire and Life Safety Officer certification.

I am a member of the Tennessee Public Fire Educators Association, and serve on many local committees pertaining to fire education and public information. I am a CPR instructor, and Child Passenger Safety Tech.

I am a 2nd generation firefighter. My dad, Bruce, is currently a Lieutenant/PIO with with Cookeville Fire-Rescue Department. He has 30+ years in the fire and EMS profession. He is the reason I do what I do. What can I say, its in the blood.

When im not at work, im with my family. My wife Shan, and daughter Addie. My wife is also a firefighter for the Murfreesboro Fire-Rescue Department. I try to spend as much time with my brothers, Zach and Tory (sheriff's deputy) as I can. With all 3 of us in the public service field, we are very close and understand what each other is going through when a call goes out.

Thats me in a nutshell. I love being a firefighter and love helping people, whether its from a dispatch console or a fire scene. I have an amazing job and family and I would not change a thing.


Monday, October 1, 2012


Welcome to Hooligans and Halligans firefighter blog, we are just getting started so bare with us and hopefully we will be up and running soon! Be safe brothers!